People who had up to 20 years worth of archived emails, photographs and contacts deleted by Eir before Christmas will be offered free lifetime access to the eircom.net subscription service as compensation for the company’s error.
The monthly cost of the email service is €9.99 but the telecommunications company has confirmed that people who had emails permanently deleted during a system upgrade will no longer be charged for the service.
In the first instance all impacted customers will automatically have a free six-month waiver attached to their account but they will also need to make contact with the company using their eircom.net address to ensure they get free lifetime access to the service.
Eir has declined to say precisely how many of the subscribers to its email service were hit by the system failure, which saw thousands of emails spanning in excess of 20 years in some instances deleted. All it would say was that 4 per cent of its user base had emails sent or received longer than 45 days ago deleted in a way that meant they could not be recovered.
An Eir spokeswoman said the “data was being moved to a new server, [when] an issue occurred and emails greater than 45 days old were inadvertently deleted and could not be recovered. An investigation was immediately launched ... and the root cause of the issue has been identified”.
She said that “measures have been put in place to ensure this issue will not happen again”.
For more than 20 years, the telecommunications company offered an eircom.net email address free to anyone who signed up and it had tens of thousands of subscribers, including many small businesses. However, in the summer of 2020 it introduced a monthly charge, which was initially set at €5.99 per month before rising to €9.99.
At the time Eir warned those who opted not to pay the charge that they would have their accounts and emails permanently deleted.
Many people then chose to sign up to the subscription service because they wanted to keep an archive of their electronic correspondence but now, despite paying for the service, have had their emails deleted.
One customer, who has been an eir customer since 2000, said she was less interested in getting free access to the service in the future than she was in having vital data restored to her account.
“I signed up for their paid service believing it to be secure,” she said. “We are told to email important documents to our own email so we will have them if needed. Unfortunately, I have family correspondence on the system that I cannot replace.”
She said the company’s response to the mass deletion of emails lacked “empathy with the significance of the data loss for customers”.
Another user who lost a significant volume of data told The Irish Times that the only copies of photographs of family members who have passed away have now disappeared forever with free access to the service not going any distance towards compensating her for that loss.